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"We feel your pain. But we can't share our plan."

I recently wrote to Highways England to express my fear that the current spate of roadwarks (in Mansfield Road,) combined with the closure of West Street, the reversal of traffic flow in Meeting House Lane and the impending closure of the sliproad onto the westbound side of the A31, would bring Ringwood to its knees.

Below is the reply I have received. I publish it here so that everyone can see how the progect is being managed. The primary task for Highways England is to complete the A31 widening project and to mitigate as far as possible, the inconvenience and damage the essential work inflicts on those affected. But I have highlighted a passage below which I find extraordinary. Although the work has already begun - and the adverse impact on the High Street and Market Place has already been serious - those responsible are still working on how they are going to deal with the even greater chaos that will esue from the next stage of their work.

Dear Paul Georgiou

Thank you for your email dated 23 October 2021 regarding the A31 Ringwood improvements scheme.

Bournemouth Water is currently working in Ringwood centre moving a large area water main. It currently goes through the two bridges that’re being replaced as part of our scheme. Their work will carry on until 6 December and then pause over the festive season until 4 January. Their current completion date is 4 March 2022. Our works will close the Ringwood slip road from 15 November to start improving the slip road. We are not closing the A31 but will create a contraflow taking traffic over to the eastbound carriageway where there will be two lanes running in each direction. The two way contraflow will be in place 24 hours 7 days per week from January 2022 to November 2022.

Hampshire County Council Highways team are currently finalising their local plan and the works are currently being organised with their supply chain and our traffic management contractor. We’re sorry but we’re unable to share the plan until it has been finalised and approved through the appropriate channels. That process is taking place now and we expect to be able to share this information shortly.

Our Traffic Impact Assessment was carried out and approved by the relevant authorities. This assessment shows the impact to traffic already on the A31 as it travels through our traffic management, it does not account for the diversions needed.

The phase one night-time closure of the Ringwood flyover had an additional journey time impact of an extra 30 seconds during the day and 90 seconds at night.

Following the diversion route from the Ringwood roundabout to Poulner Hill around 2.2 miles, the traffic impact assessment shows an approximate 4 minute delay. Heading westbound through the contraflow the traffic impact assessment shows an approximate 4 minute delay and from Southampton Road to Ashley Heath, heading to Bournemouth the traffic impact assessment shows a total delay of 9.6 minutes.

These delay times are in additional to any typical delay times so if there is already a 15-minute delay to a journey the traffic impact assessment figures should be added to that delay.

We’re in regular discussion with local stakeholders including Hampshire County Council Highways Team about the coordination of our works. We appreciate that the main scheme and associated works will create disruption and we are working hard to reduce the impact for the residents and businesses of Ringwood as much as possible.

Thank you for taking the time to contact us. I hope that you find the information provided useful. If you have any further questions please contact the project via the scheme email address or by calling the Customer Contact Centre on 0300 123 5000. You may also like to fill in our Customer Feedback Form and tell us how we did in handling your enquiry.

Kind regards

Daniel Kittredge

Project Manager – A31 Ringwood Road Widening

Plans for this project were begun in 2017. Can it really be true that they are still working on how traffic - including ambulancs and fire engines and heavy goods vehicles - will navidate the town when the only access to the town centre is along a narrow stretch of the Christchurch Road., ill-suited to two-way traffic?

The least the Town Council can do is change the traffic flow back to what it was, so traffic can enter the High Street and Market Place via Meeting House Lane.. And while they're at it, take down signs that tell visitors that they cannot access the High Street and the Market Place from the Furlong. For the sake of the town, I suggest that we put up more signs telling people what they can do, and fewer telling them what they can't.


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